About the Program — Very Young Composers
Very Young Composers (VYC) was developed by noted composer (and former Associate Principal Bass) Jon Deak to answer the question, "what is children's music?" Working with Mr. Deak and Philharmonic Teaching Artists, public school children, with limited musical background, compose their very own music for Philharmonic musicians to play - often for the full Orchestra. Students make every compositional decision and write every note, with Teaching Artists serving as mentors and scribes. VYC demonstrates children's innate creativity, and provides a glimpse of the future of classical music.
VYC has grown since 1995 to include a number of ongoing initiatives.
- After-school workshops through the Philharmonic's School Partnership Program involve 72 fifth-graders, who participate in 12 weekly workshops with Teaching Artists and visiting musicians. Their completed chamber works are performed publicly each spring.
- The Philharmonic's School Day Concerts, heard by 10,000 students from the entire metropolitan area, feature performances of fully orchestrated pieces, selected from the prior spring's Very Young Composers premieres. Talented high school composers also write pieces especially for the School Day Concerts.
- The Bridge provides graduates of the VYC, who have reached middle school, with the opportunity to develop musical skills and compositional independence as they prepare for advanced studies in composition. Graduates of the Bridge, and older composers whose music the orchestra has performed, assist as Teaching Artist Interns, creating an intensive learning environment for all.
- Satellite programs around the United States — in Denver and Vail, CO; Stevens Point, WI; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN — are developing ongoing VYC programs with their own Teaching Artists trained by the Philharmonic.
- Projects abroad — in Shanghai, Tokyo, Caracas, and Seoul - have demonstrated that children's creativity knows no borders. VYC introduces radical new ideas into differing educational cultures, which are developing their own approaches.
"Our ultimate aim is not to produce spectacular one-time concerts celebrating children's art - as laudable as these events have been. We are truly dedicated to learning from children, nurturing an art that takes root, flowers, and develops into a truly indigenous expression - and we are talking about small towns in Spain, the jungles of Venezuela and the mountains of Colorado or Japan, as well as in the streets and barrios of New York, San Paulo or Helsinki. Another thrilling aspect of this work is cherishing the small but detectable local differences between an instinctive, true kids' art in Seoul, Wisconsin, Asturias or Shanghai. What an incredible treasure awaits!"
Young Composers Advocate at the New York Philharmonic
"Very Young Composers demonstrates again and again that students are not empty vessels, but bring vital ideas, experience, and personality to learning. It forces professionally trained composers to rethink some assumptions. And it holds the promise of contributing to a great flowering of musical creativity. When the full New York Philharmonic performs children's compositions for children's audiences, the level of attention spikes, and afterward, the music from the canon of greats is far less remembered than the 10-year-old who composed about her grandmother's stories. It is a privilege and a great responsibility for us at the New York Philharmonic to nurture the evolution and dissemination of Very Young Composers."
Director of Education
The Sue B. Mercy Chair
Very Young Composers Schools
(all participate in the School Partnership Program)
- PS 24, Bronx
- PS 39, Brooklyn
- PS 59, Manhattan
- PS 108, Manhattan
- PS 165, Manhattan
- PS 199, Manhattan
Very Young Composers Teaching Artists
- Jon Deak, Young Composers Advocate at the New York Philharmonic
- Richard Carrick
- Daniel Felsenfeld
- Avery Griffin
- Paola Prestini
- David Wallace
A Homework and Resource Guide for 2013–2014
Download the homework each week in PDF format.
Bridge I and II, week 1 (Dec 9)
Bridge I and II, week 2 (Jan 6)
Bridge I and II, week 3 (week of Jan 13)
Bridge I and II, week 4 (week of Jan 20)
Bridge II, week 5 (Feb 3) #1
Bridge II, week 5 (Feb 3) #2
Bridge I, week 5 (Feb 5)
Bridge I, week 6 (Feb 12)
Bridge II, week 6 (Feb 10)
Bridge I and II, week 7 (week of Feb 24)
Bridge I and II, week 8 (week of March 10)
Listening and following scores - for the Bridge I assignment
Bridge I and II, week 9 (week of March 17)
Bridge I and II, week 10 (week of March 24)
Bridge I and II, week 11 (week of March 31)
Bridge II, week 12 (week of April 7)
Part I: the postcard project
Part II: Classical Period Listening
Bridge II, week 13 (week of April 28)
Bridge I, week 14 (week of April 30)
Bridge I, week 15 (week of May 14)
Bridge II, week 15 (week of May 12)
Bridge I, week 16 (week of May 21)
Bridge II, week 16 (week of May 19)
Interval Study Guide
Activity Book for Kids ? puzzles, games, coloring pages, and more.
Things Composers Can Do with a Melody — Composite List
Jon Deak, Founder and Director, Very Young Composers
David Wallace, Senior Teaching Artist
Daniel Felsenfeld, Teaching Artist
Teaching Artist Associates
Teaching Artist Interns
2014–15 events to be announced.